Have ya ever been sitting around the house on a Friday or Saturday night, arguing with your significant other about what movie to see. One wants horror while the other wants a romantic-comedy. Well have I got the film for you!! SPRING is a genre-defying film that has it’s feet in the horror, sci-fi, romance, and body-horror genres. SPRING contains elements of all these genres yet isn’t defined by any of them. This is a wholly unique film that surprised the hell out of me. And for those of you who know my movie preferences, you’ll be shocked by how much I enjoyed this film. Flicks like this don’t come around often or often enough.
SPRING follows the story of Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), a twenty-something guy whose life hasn’t been an easy ride. His dad dropped dead from a heart attack when he was young, and recently Evan had to drop out of college in order to take care of his terminally ill mother. Now he works a job he hates and feels as though his life in permanently on hold. As the film opens, Evan is tending to his mother when she takes a downwards turn and passes away hand in hand with Evan. After the funeral Evan goes out with his best friend Tommy (Jeremy Gardner), who is perpetually drunk, stoned, or a little of both. While at the bar, a loud-mouthed douchetard starts a fight and Evan takes out all his aggression on the guy, practically beating him to death. Now the cops are after Evan and he’s finally had enough. Since he no longer has anything holding him back, he buys a one-way ticket to Italy and decides to start over.
Directors Justin Benson (who also wrote the script) and Aaron Moorhead take things slow. Part of the success of SPRING is the characters. If ever there was a character-driven film, SPRING is it. Within twenty minutes, you’ll feel as though you really know Evan. Evan may do the occasional bad thing, but he isn’t a bad guy. He’s frustrated and angry, yet he has nothing physical to be angry at (he couldn’t very well be angry at his mother and father for dying young, could he?). Evan isn’t asking for or wanting anything special. He just wants a fair shot in life – the same opportunities others around him always seem to get.
Traveling through Italy he winds up in a picturesque small, coastal town. There he meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a beautiful student studying evolutionary genetics. Louise is one of the best written female characters I’ve seen in a long time. She’s a mysterious woman who values her privacy and doesn’t open up. At first she is the aggressor and pursues Evan. The scene where she first approaches Evan at the bar is a standout scene. She says hello to Evan and then immediately asks him if he’ll take her home, “for fun.” Evan, being a man and being an American, isn’t used to such a strong, empowered woman and tries to slow things down. He asks her out on a date for the next night and she walks away. Alone. This scene is one of many perfectly crafted scenes. The dialogue is real, but more importantly, the emotions in the scene feel real.
Evan is instantly smitten by Louise and decides to stay in the small town. He takes a room and helps the elderly owner, Angelo (Francesco Carnelutti), around the farm in exchange for free room and board. Evan bumps into Louise (it is a small town, after all) and eventually talks his way into a date. The rest of the film is a love story and it brings the viewer along. It’s the story of how a passionate encounter evolves into something more real. About how two profoundly lonely people, alone for very different reasons, manage to find each other but realize how difficult it is to reach out. The world created in SPRING feels so real. We’ve all been where these characters are. Every one of us has at one time or another felt alone and isolated and on the outside. So what happens if you meet someone else who’s like that? How do two people who are used to being alone, reach out and connect? What makes this film 100% successful are the leads, Pucci and Hilker. The chemistry between these two is so real that you forget you’re watching a film. At times is felt like I was watching home movies of these two lovers.
There is, though, one hurdle to Evan and Louise living happily ever after. Louise is harboring a huge secret (don’t worry, no spoilers here). Louise isn’t exactly what she seems. Correction … she’s exactly what she seems, she’s just also a lot more. Directors Benson and Moorhead do a fantastic job at slowly revealing Louise’s secret. Little by little we get clues and hints at what she might be, but nothing will prepare you for her true secret. Is she an evolutionary anomaly? Is she some kind of tentacled-Lovecraftian monster? You’ll have to find out for yourself.
I think this is the first time I’ve ever written this in any review, but SPRING is a beautiful film. Everything about it will captivate you. The Italian setting is gorgeous, the acting is some of the best I’ve seen, and the script is phenomenal. Benson and Moorhead know exactly what they’re doing here. They never try to make SPRING something it isn’t. They have such focus and control over the material that they manage to make the horror-scifi elements slip seamlessly into what is essentially a romantic dramedy (I can’t believe I just referred to a film I love as a ‘romantic dramedy’!!). There’s no real blood or gore worth mentioning, although the creature f/x are fantastic, but that’s not what this film is.
I can’t say enough good things about SPRING. I never thought in a million years I’d be raving about a romantic dramedy that has horror-scifi elements in it. But here we are. The ending, which does get a little schmaltzy, is perfect. We experience Evan and Louise’s characters come full circle as the end credits roll. Through the darkness, two lonely souls managed to find each other. It’s a surprisingly uplifting ending. I was left watching the credits thinking about what I just watched and was speechless. SPRING is not a film to be missed. The script and acting are perfect. Everything from the dialogue to the emotions of the characters are so real you can’t help but completely fall for this film. Highly recommended!!
Directors: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
Plot: 5 out of 5 stars
Gore: 1 out of 10 skulls (although I’d give the creature f/x an 8 out 10 skulls)
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer